The Brittle Sea: Guest Post by Tom Kane

by Tom Kane

The Titanic disaster is the catalyst that sparks a bloody feud between two families in early 20th century America.

Magda Asparov is travelling from her home in the Ukraine to be the chosen bride of American businessman Matthew Turner III. But the ill-fated voyage of the unsinkable ship has far reaching consequences for her and her savior. Magda has lost her memory and a new personality, Maggie, has taken hold. The Captain of her rescue ship, Richard Blackmore, has fallen for Maggie.

A mental illness, betrayal, murder, and corruption destroy Blackmore’s life until all that remains is for him to seek revenge.

The Brittle Sea: Aspects of History

At the time of the Titanic disaster humans were more and more putting their trust in fledgling technologies and in some cases, this was leading to disasters where many people were losing their lives. The technology of the early part of the 20th Century was a new and wondrous experience for many people. From electric lightbulbs to early telephones, people’s lives were being transformed for the better. But the infancy of any technological expansion will inevitably lead to human error, often with catastrophic and deadly consequences. In The Brittle Sea, the tragedy of the Titanic was a small aspect of the entire story. In my book, the loss of the Titanic was simply a device for fiction to introduce characters. In reality, a major aspect of the sinking of the Titanic was the pure negligence of those who should have known better.

Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912: Wikipedia

The engineers at the time were, in some cases, working blind because not enough was known about the consequences of an accident outside the realm of current knowledge. Though the Titanic was considered at the time to be a modern marvel of engineering, it was in fact a death trap if a series of unexpected events occurred.

The Titanic was hailed as a technological marvel and as such an unsinkable ship, but not, as many believe, by the designer or builders, but by the press. When the Titanic struck the iceberg near midnight on 14th April 1912 nobody had foreseen such a disastrous event. Collisions with icebergs where not unknown events in the North Atlantic, but what had not been considered was the speed of the liner, the size of the iceberg, the mass of the berg underwater and the poor engineering involved in creating watertight compartments. There were sixteen ‘watertight’ compartments that were supposed to seal the lower decks in case of a leak. If these had worked then the Titanic would probably never have sunk. However, the one poor engineering aspect of these compartments was their failure to reach to the ceiling. If enough water filled one of these compartments, then the water would overflow to the next compartment and the ship would then be forced lower into the water. This is exactly what happened on that fateful night as the long gash created by the collision with the berg allowed water to flow in and overcome the watertight compartments. The inevitable weight of water lowered the ship more into the icy water until the inevitable happened, the Titanic sank.

London newsboy, Ned Parfett, with
news of the disaster, as reported
on Tuesday, 16 April: Wikipedia

The iceberg the Titanic struck has been estimated at 150,000-300,000 tons and for 60 hours previous warnings had been transmitted by Marconi wireless. The lookouts had to contend with a moonless night and so it was not easy to spot the largest icebergs before it was too late, specially since the Titanic was cruising at 22 knots, her maximum speed. In other words, it was an accident waiting to happen.

What made the tragedy even worse was that there were originally enough lifeboats to hold all the passengers and crew. But due to an aesthetic demand, one row of lifeboats was removed. That decision alone doomed many to an icy death.

After the disaster there were two main enquiries in the UK and USA. The ship was American owned but British built. There were recriminations on either side, but in the end many safety measures were upgraded, and many new measures brought into play.

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Meet Tom Kane:

As a child, Tom Kane’s family always insisted he was born in the corner of the living room, behind the TV. That strange assertion, true or false, seems to have set the tone for the rest of his life. Kane’s mother inspired him to write. Doctor Who and Isaac Asimov inspired his love of science fiction. Monty Python inspired him to be silly and he continues to blame Billy Connolly for his infrequent bursts of bad language In the corner or behind the TV, what is officially known about Tom Kane’s birth is that it took place in England many moons ago.

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